By Tara Bennett
The world’s most perfect nanny is dropping in to Theatre Baton Rouge (TBR) in a show that will bring the Disney legend to life. “Mary Poppins” and her no-nonsense approach to child care will premiere this week on Thursday, Sept. 11. Though the show has yet to premiere, tickets have been selling out quickly, causing the theatre to extend performances for an additional week. The show will now be closing on Thursday, Oct. 9.
“Theatre Baton Rouge is a very exciting place to be right now, and I’m glad that the community is feeling the excitement as well,” said TBR Artistic Director Jenny Ballard. “I hope that this encourages audiences to get their tickets early.”
The beloved musical tells the fanciful story of nanny, Mary Poppins, who helps bring the disconnected Banks family together. According to Holdridge, this show will be a little more sentimental, and focuses more on how the Banks are a dysfunctional family, but in true Disney form live happily ever after.
“Young or old alike, you’re going to feel on top of the world after seeing the show,” said Director Lin Holdridge. “Everyone in the audience will leave the show feeling like they have seen magic once again.”
Produced by Disney and Cameron Mackintosh, Melanie Couvillon, cast as Poppins, is excited to put on the iconic nanny costume – and yes, she will get to fly.
“I’m a former teacher,” said Couvillon, who has refrained from watching any other portrayal as she prepared for the role of the iconic Disney character. “Her approach with the children is very similar to my approach on my first day of school with the kids. So I kind of related to that. I kind of identified with her. I am very silly, so I love to have fun in different ways and she does that. She’s very creative.”
As Poppins’ chimney sweep friend, Bert, the lean and limber Zachary Denham has been compared to being on par with Dick van Dyke, who brought the character to life on screen.
“It really is kind of life imitating art imitating life,” said Denham. “It’s not only nostalgic, but for me, there are so few roles that I feel are already created in the theatrical world to which an actor of my gifts and talents has to offer, and this role is so appropriate, and so spot on, and so fun and I totally feel like I completely embody what is expected of Bert as a person.”
The child actors playing the Banks’ two children, Jane and Michael, include Molly Beth Blanchard and Joey Roth. Blanchard is excited to be working with TBR again after a successful run in their production of “Annie” as the little redheaded orphan. Both child actors are very excited about the show.
“It’s been a lot of fun just working with all the people that are in it, they’re all so amazing,” said Blanchard. “It’s so awesome being in a show like this, it’s huge.”
“I love the show because I’ve never actually been in a show like this before,” said Roth.
It’s a cast Holdridge is excited about.
“After directing for almost 30 years, this is the best cast I’ve ever worked with,” said Holdridge. “Every single role has someone who is dynamic. We are fortunate to have some of the best singers and dancers I’ve ever worked with and we modeled the show off of the original Broadway choreography because the cast could handle it.”